Saturday, 4 July 2009


Three games this evening and it would be fair to say that I feel a great deal of frustration at the moment. Most of that would come from the last game of the evening, where Catalans defeated Hull KR 23 – 12.

Carrying a liability on Catalans into the game, I was fortunate to trade out at a higher price on Hull KR whilst they had a try disallowed by the video referee, and then resorted to my usual type of laying the fast starting favourite heavily, taking what I considered to be the generous prices of 1.15 at 12 – 6. However, Catalans’ try on the stroke of half time made my position less comfortable, and for once I relied upon the generosity of a layer, getting out at 1.3 at Half Time for a small red on Catalans, and a nice green on Hull KR and the Draw.

About ten minutes through the second half, I risked my lot by laying Catalans at 1.11. At the time, I thought this was superb value for a two score game. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the value I thought, but it still was very fair, and getting an additional £100 matched at 1.05 didn’t hurt.

For the next twenty or so minutes Hull KR appeared to bomb chance after chance whilst receiving penalty after penalty, only to score to make it 18 – 12 with ten minutes to go. However, the market did not move. Now, at this point, my red on Catalans was only around £40, but I wanted out and offered the exceptional value of 1.2 to eliminate my red and was now tasked with over £250 on Hull KR, £300 on the draw and a marginal amount on Catalans.

However, I cannot begin to describe how exceptional value this was. In a one score game, the favourites could still be laid in the mid 1.2s whilst a draw layer was comfortable giving up 16.5. My only surprise is that no-one bit. In a more liquid game, this would have been smashed, and this lack of liquidity meant that I could only sweat and hope for a massive win. After all, there was no-one looking to back Hull KR and the prices were already insane. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as the betters achieved another success over the value takers.

The middle game of the evening saw Warrington defeat Celtic but only after a slow start. Again, some fair value was taken although as like last week, three quick tries in the second half from Warrington eliminated any hope of a big profit.

Preceding all this was the SKY game, Hull v Leeds, which was a very interesting game. My thoughts before the game were that Leeds represented value and the team news did nothing to alter my mind as Hull only had one prop on the bench, and let’s face it, none of Paul King, Jamie Thackray or Sam Moa are exactly known for their stamina.

However, I could not bring myself to back Leeds before the game, and some good trades were cancelled out by the drop on Leeds to as low as 1.16 before the game kicked off. A quick try saw Leeds reach 1.09, so I laid. Only for Leeds to score again, pushing the price to 1.05, so I laid again. Hull did score to allow me to green out and cancel my earlier backs overall although it was then pretty much one way traffic, mixed in with an unfortunate video referee decision and a moment of idiocy from Willie Manu. (Maybe I am being harsh and he did not hear the whistle, but it wasn’t exactly his first error.)

At 36 – 12, it looked all over, but by this point, I was sitting on around £35 on Leeds, which to be honest amazed me. Having reviewed how I got to this amount, I can only say that it was by market trading and this re-inforced why I love trading Rugby League. Recently, I have taken a decisive move to embrace the subjective concept of value, and it hasn’t worked out great, although as such a strategy is based on long term success, I’m not unhappy with it (I just wish I had not been so cautious last week!).

However, part of the reason I can take such a position is because I know the markets. No-one can ever accurately predict what the market will do, but if you study it long enough, you learn that every event has a price. A knock on, a penalty, a goal line drop out, a bad kick, a good kick, a half break, a full break. Everything has its price, and there are always two opinions. The sooner you embrace that, the sooner you will profit.

Anyway, just as Hull scored to make it 36 – 16, I opted to chance my arm and laid £1,000 at 1.01. Not a huge amount, but a potential big win, and even if it just moved to 1.02, I could achieve a free £500. Not only did it do that, but it moved out to 1.09 I think as Hull closed to within 12 and almost closed to within 6 until a Rob Burrow drop goal effectively ended the game.

However, Hull showed great spirit if not ability and fought back to 37 – 30, only for a late Leeds try to absolutely secure victory, by which time I had increased my profit to £80 and leave me astonished.

I’ve made some good calls in the past, executed some good games but this felt by far my best performance. There is an old saying that the best succeed when they perform badly, and I had got the game very wrong in terms of prediction, but had secured an exceptional result.

I embraced the volatility, took chances and yes, I did get lucky, but for the first time in a very long time, I walked away thinking I could not have really traded any better.

There were also very encouraging signs for Hull. Their team is not very good, and they had not even scored five tries in a match since March! However, they showed excellent resiliency and that they want to play for their coach. That is a massive boost, and whilst they have signed three players who are past their best for 2010 in Sean Long, Mark O’Meley and Craig Fitzgibbon, the one thing you can’t doubt is that they will give 100% effort and should add the class that they have been lacking this year. (On a related note, what has happened to Chris Thorman? I was never a huge fan, but his form since last year has been on a par with the National Leagues.)

By my own high standards, it has been a disappointing week, and I believe that it may be my second worst of the year. I’m not going to achieve the profit required to make the £5,000 yearly profit before I go to Cardiff, but I feel that over the past two weeks, I have definitely improved my general trading. Maybe I am looking for the big win and the underdog too much, but I’m not convinced. The fact is that in play betting creates fantastic opportunities, and all you need is one or two to come off to have an excellent win.

If I was looking for areas of improvement, two stick out like a sore thumb. Firstly, I need to embrace short value a lot more. I considered Leeds to be good value at 1.25, but never got on. Maybe it is because I usually play with relatively small stakes, but value is value, and by steering clear, all I am doing is cutting my profits.

Secondly, and this was hugely obvious in the Catalans v Hull KR game, I get way too nervous during games. I need to become calmer not only to ensure that my decisions are rational, but also for general health reasons! The way I was fretting, you would think that I had stood to win £300,000. Not £300. I guess this reverts back to my non gambling mentality and wish to always equalise, but there is still no reason to be excessively agitated. Whatever happens will happen whilst I was reacting with extreme nervousness, sweating like crazy and feeling my heart rate noticeably increase.

Anyway, two games to go before I depart for Cardiff. I like both underdogs for value reasons, although neither are exactly nailed on. However, hopefully both favourites will take an early lead, offer excellent value, and then wilt in the second half. Only time will tell, however.

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